In collaboration with the Swiss watch firm, Baume, on Monday, 15 October, Waste Free Oceans (WFO) started a plastic waste remediation action on São Miguel island, the biggest island in the Portuguese Azores archipelago.
Supported by the Government of the Azores, ASEMA (Associação Sete Mares dos Açores), IMAR (Instituto do Mar, Universidade dos Açores), OMA (Observatório do Mar dos Açores) and Thomsea, the overall objective of the operation is to contribute to the prevention and the clean-up of the plastics pollution in the Atlantic Ocean.
WFO explained that it is trying to raise awareness of stakeholders, both policy makers and the public at large, by collecting information that documents the impact of marine debris and, at the same time, to build the capacity of the project partners and to support the mobilisation of resources for a larger follow-up project that could cover the whole Azores area.
In the first phase, WFO said that it tried to acquire a better understanding of the waste issues on and off the coast of the Azores. The organisation collected information from various stakeholders with respect to the waste in the Atlantic. Based on this, the organisation identified a pilot project, aiming to remove the waste in the waters off the coast of São Miguel island.
Waste Free Oceans’s regular activity consists in the collection of floating marine debris, using fishing trawls and new technology, i.e. “Thomsea” nets. In addition, the project also aims at reducing the shoreline waste by organising beach clean-ups and other awareness raising activities with the help of local organisations.
Once the plastic is collected, the next step is to find creative ways to reuse it. WFO partnered with the company Baume in order to use the recycled plastic in the creation of a sustainable watch. Baume supports this initiative by donating 2% of proceeds from watches sold to WFO. Through volunteering and collaboration, the common goal is to raise awareness on the importance of protecting our oceans by removing a meaningful amount of plastic from the environment.
Upon the first findings during the pilot phase and the evaluation, decisions will be made for the 2019 period and beyond. The joint partners will apply for longer term funding to set up a formal Fishing for Litter scheme, including preventive fishing gear collection for recycling.
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